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[ book tip by Incentives ] Heinrich Steinfest, born in 1961, is regarded as a ‘typical’ representative of the Austrian thriller. The plots of his crime novels do not generally follow the laws of logic, his characters are odd birds, and language takes precedence over the ‘whodunit’.
In his latest novel, Mariaschwarz, a stranger named Vincent Olander drinks himself to the edge of unconsciousness every day in the mist-enveloped mountain village of Hiltroff. When, one day, he is saved by the landlord from drowning in the nearby mountain lake, he tells him of his desperate search for his daughter, who was kidnapped in Italy. He is hoping to come across some traces of her in Hiltroff. Yet Olander’s story has a hitch: his wife is adamant that their common daughter never existed.
A little while later, a monster is spotted in the lake. From all over the world, reporters from the boulevard press, as well as scientists, arrive in the village. And they do actually discover something at the bottom of the lake: a skeleton. Detective inspector Richard Lukastik is assigned to investigate the case. In the course of his investigations, it emerges that the skeleton is closely connected to the kidnapping of the child. The investigations lead Lukastik to Italy, where step by step he unerringly solves the intricate case. However, the novel does not end with the solution of the case. Once again Lukastik travels to Italy...
Disparate parts of the novel are held together by an omniscient narrator, who guides his readers through the plot philosophically and humorously. One might have wished for some of the persistence of this narrator, who chatters away happily to himself for over three hundred pages, from the plot and the characters.
(Translated by Peter Waugh)
Abridged review by Georg Renöckl, November 2008
The full version of this review
[ book info ] Steinfest, Heinrich: Mariaschwarz.
(Mariablack). (original language: Deutsch)